Travel Photographer - Interview with Sivan Askayo

Sivan Askayo

Where are you from?

I am originally from Tel Aviv. I was living 12 years in New York up until a year ago, but moved back to Tel Aviv. Now I am enrolee Tel Aviv - New York. 

How did you get involved in travel photography?

Travel Photography was always a dream job! Before working as a travel photographer, I used to work in Advertising for Corporate America. When I reached to a point in life where I had to do a change, I asked myself what are the most things I love to do. They are Travel, Photography and Writing. I’ve started taking classes at ICP (International Centre of Photographing) knowing that I wanted to become a travel photographer. I met with some of the travel photographers I admired and followed, to ask them for some tips and directions. I asked for their opinion about my portfolio. Slowly, I started building a portfolio of my own and each time I travel (even for leisure) I took the opportunity to look at it as an assignment; I made sure to shoot the 4 component; Landscape, Portraits of people, Interiors and Food. With time, I’ve started to contact and reach out to Photo Editors in NY and asked for portfolio reviews. One thing led to another and I got my first travel assignment, which led to others. 

A Tel Avivian Feast. I was shooting a food story in Tel Aviv for Travel+Leisure and one of the places was Port Said, a very hispserish yet delicious place. I actually staged this frame, places some tomatoes and pomegranates on the table to give some colors and texture. I think this image really shows the dining atmosphere of this place.

A Tel Avivian Feast. I was shooting a food story in Tel Aviv for Travel+Leisure and one of the places was Port Said, a very hispserish yet delicious place. I actually staged this frame, places some tomatoes and pomegranates on the table to give some colors and texture. I think this image really shows the dining atmosphere of this place.

Is there a place that you've visited for work / pleasure that has really surprised you?

Tokyo. I’ve been to Tokyo for 72 hours when I was on my way from New York to Vietnam. 

I was there on my own and I walked a lot and photographed the city. I slept only 4-5 hours during the night because I was so overwhelmed with the sights of the city and it took me time to digest. I remember walking in Ginza area in Tokyo and thought to myself that Tokyo was like Manhattan on Steroids. If I ever thought that New York was the centre of the universe it was because I’ve never been to Tokyo. 

If you didn't discover travel photography, what do you think you'll be doing?

I would still be in the media business probably, negotiating media deals for big brands in America. 

What country haven't you been to, that's top on your list?

Cuba for sure. I wanted to travel to Cuba for a while now, but I’m afraid it might be too late now, since the recent changes. I want to see it as authentic as possible although I’ve heard it has been slightly commercialised. There are so many countries on my list: The Philippines, Colombia, Croatia and Iceland.

How would you describe your shooting style?

I shoot travel, which is combined by landscape, interior, portrait and food. If you want to be a travel photographer, you need to master all these 4 components. 

I can’t really define my style, to be honest, although some of my friends and colleagues say they can recognise it. I can say that I love colours, textures and layers. I will always try to shoot an image with different layers, not a flat image. I will look for a different angle to give it a twist or a different perspective. 

Do you have a favourite photograph that you've shot?

I have a few photos that I love actually. The image below was taken in Buenos Aires, Argentina on a Sunday. I was in San Telmo and walked around. I took this picture from a terrace overlooking a courtyard. At first, I didn’t notice the similarity in the colours of the clothes or the hand gestures. Only when I got back to my hotel and processed the image, I’ve noticed it.

This image reminds me of the movie ‘City of God’. I was in Nassau, The Bahamas for my birthday. I was walking on the beach with my camera when I’ve noticed these young kids goofing around and pushing each other into the water. They were running and jumping to the water. I knew that if I want to take a good picture, I need to run too, or walk fast, so I can catch them and their movement. 

This image was taken in Manhattan under the Manhattan bridge in China Town/Lower East side area. I was actually walking back from a shooting session, when I crossed that path and saw these young kids walking around. There is something about the monochromic colours and the movement that I like about this image.

What does your shooting gear consist of?

Nikon D600, Nikon D90, Various lens such as 35/1.8, 50/1.4, 24-70/2.8, 20mm, 80/1.4 and macro lens for some close up and food photography, 

What piece of advice would you give people that want to become travel photographers?

Keep shooting and practicing, Give yourself assignments when you travel. Look at it as an assignment opportunity and look for a theme or a story. Build a solid portfolio and don’t be shy to ask for feedback, directions etc. Ask questions. Seek to learn and grow. Keep promoting yourself. Photography is 15% photos and 85% self promotion. Photo editors are humans just like you. 

This is one of my favourite images of Winter in New York. I just went out from the gym after a snow storm and all the kids went out to the park with their colourful clothes and slides. I ran home to get my camera right away to capture these kids.

This is one of my favourite images of Winter in New York. I just went out from the gym after a snow storm and all the kids went out to the park with their colourful clothes and slides. I ran home to get my camera right away to capture these kids.